The Treasure of Jamaica Reef (1974)

PG | 90 mins | Drama | 22 March 1974

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HISTORY

A voiceover begins the film with the following information: “October 15, 1971, Hugo Graham, aeronautical engineer, entered his office as he had done every single working day for the past five years. And then Zappy called. Joshua Owen, R&D computer expert, once again had started to replace a printout circuit. Then Zappy called. Victor Spivak, marketing analyst, as usual was adjusting the morning survey report, and then Zappy called. That day they left San Francisco and disappeared. For over 200 years, the waters of the Caribbean have hidden a chest of gold, lost when Captain Viasante’s galleon sank on a shallow reef. From the archives, we learned that the captain had taken what he could to a cave exactly three miles from the wreck. We were gonna find it.”
       End credits give filming locations as: “Jamaica and Grenada and aboard the wreck of the Bianca ‘C’ in thirty fathoms.” Neophite actress Cheryl Stoppelmoor later married costar David Ladd and became well known on television as Cheryl Ladd.
The 14 Mar 1974 LAT noted that producers Virginia Stone and husband Alex McCombie formed United States International to release their “first independent production,” The Treasure of Jamaica Reef, but that company name does not appear in credits. Interviewed in the 22 Mar 1975 LAT, Stone, who also directed and edited the film, said she obtained $750,000 from John Belk, the mayor of Charlotte, NC, and owner of the Belk Department Store chain, who insisted that the film be G-rated and suitable for children. Stone herself spent another $60,000. Concerning the difficult filming, she said, “We could only stay under water fifteen minutes a ... More Less

A voiceover begins the film with the following information: “October 15, 1971, Hugo Graham, aeronautical engineer, entered his office as he had done every single working day for the past five years. And then Zappy called. Joshua Owen, R&D computer expert, once again had started to replace a printout circuit. Then Zappy called. Victor Spivak, marketing analyst, as usual was adjusting the morning survey report, and then Zappy called. That day they left San Francisco and disappeared. For over 200 years, the waters of the Caribbean have hidden a chest of gold, lost when Captain Viasante’s galleon sank on a shallow reef. From the archives, we learned that the captain had taken what he could to a cave exactly three miles from the wreck. We were gonna find it.”
       End credits give filming locations as: “Jamaica and Grenada and aboard the wreck of the Bianca ‘C’ in thirty fathoms.” Neophite actress Cheryl Stoppelmoor later married costar David Ladd and became well known on television as Cheryl Ladd.
The 14 Mar 1974 LAT noted that producers Virginia Stone and husband Alex McCombie formed United States International to release their “first independent production,” The Treasure of Jamaica Reef, but that company name does not appear in credits. Interviewed in the 22 Mar 1975 LAT, Stone, who also directed and edited the film, said she obtained $750,000 from John Belk, the mayor of Charlotte, NC, and owner of the Belk Department Store chain, who insisted that the film be G-rated and suitable for children. Stone herself spent another $60,000. Concerning the difficult filming, she said, “We could only stay under water fifteen minutes a day, according to Navy guidelines, so it took fifteen months to finish production.” She added, “Most of the film was shot 200 feet under water, which would have cost a studio crew about $500,000.” McCombie, who was also the film’s primary cameraman, billed as J. A. S. McCombie, designed a special underwater apparatus to contain his 195-pound Todd-AO camera. McCombie, Stone, and two Grenada divers also worked as underwater stand-ins. Assistant director Lively Andrew Stone and music composer Christopher Lively Stone were the sons of Virginia Stone, whose maiden name was Lively.
       Because of Mayor Belk’s financial support, the film premiered 21 Mar 1974 in Charlotte, NC, and opened in 137 theaters in NC and SC the following day, according to the 1 Apr 1974 Box.
       Following the success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1974, see entry), Stone re-edited The Treasure of Jamaica Reef in 1976, using added shark footage, and retitled it Evil in the Deep, according to the 7 Jun 1976 and 30 Jul 1976 issues of DV.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Apr 1974.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1976.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jul 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Mar 1974
Section E, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
22 Mar 1975
Section E, p. 15.
Variety
20 Feb 1974..
---
Variety
16 Oct 1974.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A D & R Film Project
John M. Belk presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Operator
Asst cam
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Negative cutter
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
2d unit sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
2d unit eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Prod mgr
Prod secy
STAND INS
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Diary of a Diver by John Walker (original publication date undetermined).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Evil in the Deep
Release Date:
22 March 1974
Premiere Information:
Premiere in Charlotte, NC: 21 March 1974
NC and SC openings: 22 March 1974
Los Angeles opening: 21 May 1975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Todd-AO
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In October 1971, three young San Francisco, California, professionals named Hugo Graham, Joshua “Josh” Owen, and Victor “Vic” Spivak receive telephone calls from their female friend, Zappy, informing them she has obtained salvage rights to search for gold lost with the sinking of a Spanish galleon 200 years earlier. The only clue to its watery grave is that the captain was able to bury a chest of gold coins in a cave on a reef exactly three miles away, even though an earthquake might have hidden the cave since then. The four fortune hunters leave town in an old Paul Masson Winery van shaped like a wine cask, which Hugo bought for $300. They drive to Florida and take a ship to Jamaica. Two thugs watch the van disembark, and send their confederate, Harvey, to steal the briefcase that contains the treasure map and salvage rights. As the four gold seekers eat at a restaurant, one local man sees the theft and alerts them. Harvey escapes in a station wagon, but Zappy jumps onto the luggage rack, as Graham and Vic follow in the van. After Josh telephones the police, he catches a ride in a Jeep driven by a teenager named Darby and joins the chase. The van runs Harvey off the road and into a ditch, but he escapes on foot, leaving the briefcase behind. The two thugs follow the fortune hunters to Port Antonio, where Hugo has rented a boat called the O’Keefe, captained by a local black man named Asper. Rowing to the O’Keefe, they run into Darby, who is in Port Antonio ... +


In October 1971, three young San Francisco, California, professionals named Hugo Graham, Joshua “Josh” Owen, and Victor “Vic” Spivak receive telephone calls from their female friend, Zappy, informing them she has obtained salvage rights to search for gold lost with the sinking of a Spanish galleon 200 years earlier. The only clue to its watery grave is that the captain was able to bury a chest of gold coins in a cave on a reef exactly three miles away, even though an earthquake might have hidden the cave since then. The four fortune hunters leave town in an old Paul Masson Winery van shaped like a wine cask, which Hugo bought for $300. They drive to Florida and take a ship to Jamaica. Two thugs watch the van disembark, and send their confederate, Harvey, to steal the briefcase that contains the treasure map and salvage rights. As the four gold seekers eat at a restaurant, one local man sees the theft and alerts them. Harvey escapes in a station wagon, but Zappy jumps onto the luggage rack, as Graham and Vic follow in the van. After Josh telephones the police, he catches a ride in a Jeep driven by a teenager named Darby and joins the chase. The van runs Harvey off the road and into a ditch, but he escapes on foot, leaving the briefcase behind. The two thugs follow the fortune hunters to Port Antonio, where Hugo has rented a boat called the O’Keefe, captained by a local black man named Asper. Rowing to the O’Keefe, they run into Darby, who is in Port Antonio to water ski. On their first day of exploration, they sail near the reef to check it out. Zappy argues with Hugo because he insists she take scuba diving lessons from Asper instead of joining them in their dangerous search. For the next few days, while Zappy learns scuba diving, Hugo, Josh, and Vic search the reef in a small, motorized boat, using Josh’s magnetometer to search for the cave. Hugo and Vic dive deep and, at 140 feet, Hugo enters the cave and scoops up a few “pieces of eight,” evidence that this was the location where the captain hid some of the treasure, but looters had taken most of it before the earthquake dropped the reef deeper in the water. Now that they have found the cave, the four search for the ship. Darby comes aboard the O’Keefe, shows them a piece of eight, and tells them he found it along a stream. Since it probably washed inland from one of the island’s bays, they retrace Darby’s steps and narrow their search to one bay. Hugo rents an airplane, mounts Josh’s magnetometer aboard, and flies in circles, dropping buoys into the water every time he gets a signal. The others dive and investigate, but find the wrong shipwrecks. The two thugs cruise by occasionally and say hello to the unsuspecting treasure hunters. Finally, at dusk, Vic, Darby, and Zappy find several artifacts from the galleon, including its bell, but night is falling. In a nearby boat, the thugs wait for them to leave, then steal the buoy that marks the galleon’s location. That night, a storm hits the island and destroys Hugo’s rented airplane. The next day, when they find the buoy gone, they think the storm took it. Complicating matters, someone has filed an injunction to stop them from searching for treasure, and they must fight it in local court. To fund the case, their Jamaican lawyer introduces them to a client who needs to find three coffins aboard a large, sunken ship, so that the client can prove the death of the occupants and collect insurance. After studying a blueprint of the ship, which has rested 200 feet below the surface for two years, Hugo, Josh, Vic, Zappy, and Darby take turns diving into the ship. Meanwhile, the two criminals dive to the galleon and find several gold coins. The next day, Hugo, Josh, and Vic return to the large ship and swim inside. Finding the coffins, they float the first one out, ride it to the surface, and return for the next one. The two bad guys approach the marker buoy and attach an explosive to the line. As it sinks into the water and explodes, the shock waves shift the ship below, trapping Josh inside. Hugo and Vic try to save him, but their diminishing air supply forces them to the surface. As they break the surface of the water, one of the thugs shoots at them. Hugo and Vic swim under and board their boat from behind. Hugo knocks a hand grenade out of one attacker’s hand. Hugo and Vic jump overboard seconds before the grenade explodes, killing the thugs and sinking their boat. Realizing Josh’s tank has no more than an hour of air remaining, Hugo returns the boat to Port Antonio. Spotting a helicopter overhead, he sends up a flare, Zappy and Vic jump into the water, and the helicopter lowers a rope rescue ladder. Dropped off at port, they get Asper and return in his salvage boat. Josh finds an air pocket inside the ship that allows him to survive until Hugo and Vic return. They get him out of the sunken ship by sharing air as they ascend. Reaching the surface, they send Josh back to the bottom to decompress to avoid getting “the bends.” As Zappy, Hugo, and Vic join him on the bottom, they accidentally find the treasure chest they were looking for. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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